Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spring: When a Young Man's Thoughts Turn to Flights of Poetry...

Last night was "Art Show and Portfolio Night" at Schecky's school.

It's a chance for the kids to show off the art projects they've been working on all year, as well as an opportunity for the parents to see how the kids' academic work has progressed since the beginning of the year.

Scheck's teacher had each child write a "Spring Time Poem" for the event.

There were many, many, many shiny happy poems about bunnies, and flowers, and sunshine.

And then there was Schecky's*...

H.A.M.S.T.E.R.S.  A.R.E.  E.V.I.L
H.A.M.S.T.E.R.S. A.R.E. E.V.I.L

*I love this boy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A New Way to Start the Day...

Disclaimer: You all know that it takes shockingly little to amuse/entertain/elate me, right?

OK, then.

You may proceed and read the post below...

I've never been much of a coffee girl.

Oh, I've tried to be one of the cool kids; but I've never managed to get my tolerance beyond a drink that is essentially warm, sugary milk with the teeniest bit of coffee added in.

Which is not to say that I'm not a caffeine junkie.

Oh no, I need my caffeine - both Bubba and Schecky will attest to the fact that it's not worth attempting to talk to me until I've had some. It's just that my caffeine delivery system revolves around Diet Coke.

I thought that this was fairly common, but am now coming to realize that it may be more of a Southern thing - the inability to function until the first Diet Coke of the morning. Anyway, regional or no - I've got it bad.

So imagine my utter glee when I discovered this:

Breakfast of Champions

Diet Coke PLUS!

What's the "plus," you might ask?
Vitamins and minerals.
25% of my RDA for Niacin, B6, B12; 15% of the zinc and magnesium, to be exact.

How's it taste?
Pretty much the same as regular Diet Coke - maybe a little sweeter? It reminds me a little of the Diet Coke with Splenda. Definitely drinkable...

And I figure that when I couple it with my usual vitamin regimen, why that's got to be downright healthy!
Doesn't it??? :)

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Just look at that jaunty blue-trimmed label... So cute...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Random Nibbly Bits*

Because it's just that kind of day...

Slowly, but surely, I'm making some progress...

Although, I need to go track down a copy of What About Bob, because I'm getting the feeling that "Baby-Stepping" is becoming my inadvertent way of life...

As evidence I present to you - Exhibit A: The BabyStepping Granny Square

Second Attempt

I'm obviously not there yet - but I'm happier with this one than the first (even if I was too lazy to weave in all the little nibbly ends.) Thank you to everyone who commented and emailed with such great advice!

I did dink around and reduced the number of chains that I used between clumps (don't you love my use of the technical terms?) I've still got to say, the tension thing still feels awkward. Oh well.
Baby step. Baby step.

Exhibit B: Progress on the De-cluttering Front.

Cleaning Out My Closets

The good news is, this is my little wagon stuffed to the gills with stuff that's going to the Salvation Army.

The bad news is that the kitchen still isn't done. Sigh.
(and with a few winter coat exceptions, everything in the car came out of the kitchen. Ugh...)

Baby step. Baby step.

And I just have to ask - do real photographers have to put up with stuff like this???

*It just occurred to me that I should have named this post "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly." I'll let you decide which is which...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Saying "Thank You" Is More Than Good Manners - It Is Good Spirituality...

I have been making a concerted effort lately to be more grateful, more appreciative, of the people and privileges that I am fortunate enough to have in my life.

Trying to take less for granted - because it is all too easy to get wrapped up in the whirling carnival that is modern-day life; all too easy to forget to say "Thank You"; all too easy to ignore just how lucky I really am.

On a day like today, when my heart just aches for the parents of the Virginia Tech students - that lesson really hits home. The people that we have in our lives should never be taken for granted...

Today, I held Schecky just a little tighter when I picked him up at school. Today, I remember to really listen when Bubba is telling me about his day, giving him my full and undivided attention. Today, I redouble my effort to tell the universe "Thank You"...

And as I sat in front of the keyboard, struggling with how to express how important this need to say thank you is, and how to do so without sounding maudlin, I heard the sound of the postman's footsteps on the porch.

And in the strange and mysterious way in which the world works - there was a package for me in the mail's daily offering...

The incredibly sweet and thoughtful MéLisa had selected me to be the recipient of a Calculated Act of Kindness... And in the mail was the most darling chickdee card (and you know how I feel about chickadees!) and the most perfect black and white headband...


Thank you, MéLisa. Thank you so very, very much...
This sweet gesture has touched me more than I can adequately express today...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Great Minds Think Alike???*

I had to smile when I read Autum's recent post at Creative Little Daisy... it seems she and I are on the same wavelength these days.

As a vacation treat, I bought this cute little kit (from Michael's, using a 40% off coupon, of course!) I thought that perhaps it would help me in my quest to teach myself crochet.

I immediately decided that I hated the yarn (icky acrylic) and the plastic hook seemed awkward. So I scrounged through my stash and found some less-objectionable yarn and a metal crochet hook that I have on hand to help me weave in all the little nibbly bits when knitting. And I set to using the kit's enclosed instructions.

I can not remember the last time that I did something that felt quite this awkward. Or that I was quite so bad at.

But I struggled through it.

And ended up with what is quite possibly the most awkward and laughable granny square ever.

Very Sad Granny Square...

At one point, as I was struggling with it, Bubba asked me if I were going to blog about this. I think my exact words were "As if!" (Because I've never really outgrown Wayne's World.)

But since Autum was kind enough to show us hers... :)
(Of course, hers did look fabulous...
Hey - does this maybe get me some "Get Real" credit???)

Maybe something constructive can come of this - those of you who do crochet, help a grrrlfriend out! Can you tell what I am doing wrong? Am I possibly on the right track, but just need more practice? Inquiring minds would love to know...

*For the record, I don't actually believe this. I don't think that great minds think alike. I think truly great minds must not think like anybody else. But that makes for a much more wordy title...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Frogmore Stew...

While on her recent jaunt to St. Simons Island, the always delightful Bekka was thoughtful enough to send me a postcard:

And that was all it took to get the wheels turning...

It got me to thinking about one of my good friends from college - a sweetie by the name of Loretta from Beaufort, SC. One of the biggest things that she anticipated about returning "home" during school breaks was a big meal of what she called "Frogmore Stew." She described it in poetic language; as nothing less than the world's most perfect food.

Alas - in college, I was not so very interested in food. So I filed her comments away in a dusty part of my brain, and didn't really give it much thought. Besides, with a name like that, it didn't really sound particularly appetizing to me.
I think I had a vague suspicion that there were frogs in it or somesuch...

But Bekka's postcard got me wondering - this "Low Country* Boil" sounded a lot like Loretta's Frogmore Stew???
Some research was definitely called for...

I immediately turned to The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, which has been a real fave of mine lately. These boys can write, and they can cook, and they combine these two interests amazingly well...
If you enjoy cooking (or simply reading beautifully written cookbooks), if you are interested in the South and/or its cuisine, or if you just enjoy a good story (because its pages are peppered with them) then this book needs to be on your "Must Read" list. But I'm wandering off-topic... Shocking!

The brothers Lee did not let me down - they explained that "Lowcountry Boil" is another name for Frogmore Stew. And no matter what you call it, it is the ultimate one-pot meal. Ingredients vary due to personal preference, and what you have on hand - but almost always include: shell-on shrimp, sausage, crab, corn, potatoes - all of which simmer in a heavily seasoned broth.

Not only did they give me a great explanation - they gave me an amazing sounding recipe.

Unfortunately for me, as many of you know I've been indulging in the MoonPie habit a little too frequently these days. And, to put it simply, it's not been kind to me. So, a little research was done to see if I could find an alternate version. One that might not do too much damage.

I found a recipe at Cooking Light - and decided to give it a whirl...

One quick trip to the store to pick up corn and shrimp, and I was in business.

Into the big stockpot went 3 quarts of water, with lots of salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, thyme and mashed garlic cloves added. Add to that a couple of bottles of beer, some bay leaves and an onion, cut into large wedges. Once boiling - I added about a pound of diced red potato, half a pound of low fat smoked sausage, two ears of shucked corn and a pound of unpeeled shrimp. That's all there was to it... Very low maintenance - although I did have to keep an eye on it, because every few minutes a new ingredient would need to be added to the pot. (The cooking times vary, so you add the potato first so it can cook the longest, then the sausage, etc.)

It's not the prettiest looking thing while it cooks, is it?

Frogmore Stew

In keeping with the easy-peasy theme of fixing up a whole mess of this stuff - serving it is to be a casual affair as well. Ideally, you serve it outside and just dump the drained contents of the pot directly out onto a newspaper covered tabletop. Since it's been cold here lately, and we were eating inside, I opted to drain it and then dump it out on a big communal platter.

Serving it up...

Now - the real test. I plunked the platter down on the table, strew a few bowls around for discarding the shrimp shells and corn cobs, and waited for everyone to dig in.

Frogmore Stew

And dig in they did! This was a huge hit with everyone. Bekka, Loretta and the Lee Brothers all know a good thing - and I thank them for sharing...

I can tell that this is going to be in heavy rotation at the House That Crazy Built this summer.

NOTE: The recipe ** was designed to serve 8. I halved the main ingredients, thinking that would cut it down for 4. However, with only 3 of us, I got two whole meals out of it - bonus! And, lazy me, I didn't even reheat it the second night, and it was still awesome served up cold.

*"Low Country" is used to describe South Carolina's southernmost coastal counties (think Charleston, and the surrounding environs...)

**I'll provide this link, but am not sure it will work for everyone - you may have to subscribe to the magazine???

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bug. Ugh.*

Those of you with children, you know how it is: you spend the first half dozen years of your child's life trying to teach him/her to share.

"Sharing is good," we say. "Sharing is caring," the little ones are taught (although, that one he learned that at preschool, not from me!)

If I had a time machine, and could go back and do it all again, I'd still teach Schecky all about sharing. Except this time, I'd remember to add a codacil:

You don't have to share your icky tummy bug.

Ah well. Too late for that lesson. Share he did. And no amount of compulsive hand-washing and sanitizing every surface with which he came in contact could save me...

Scheckster bounced back quickly, as young 'uns do. Thanks to all the "feel better" wishes that you all sent his way. I do love some good karma...

I didn't have it as severely as he did, but I've been dragging for days.

And for some reason, as I was in the process of slowly bouncing back, I decided that it was time to restart the Great Decluttering Project of 2007 by tackling the kitchen. The less said about the horrors of my cabinets, the better. Let's just say that I've lived here for 14 years, and I don't think I've ever emptied out the cabinets and gone through them. Did I already say "the horror"???
And I'm not brave enough to document them, not even for "Get Real Monday." I want no proof of how icky things were. I'm going to pretend like it never happened....

Between care-giving, and dragging around, and tackling the cabinets - it's not left much time for going through vacation photos. I did get them downloaded though - and I think I may have figured out where this "bug" came from in the first place...

Who in the World???

Schecky and the Bug
Ack! It's Got Schecky!

Oh, Well.... *That's* Just Asking For Trouble...
Should have known this wasn't going to end happily...

*Technically, I suppose this should be "Bugs. Ugh." But I'm obviously willing to sacrifice grammar for a silly rhyme.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Life Is What Happens While You're Making Other Plans...

Ah yes...

We had a lovely Spring Break tour of South Georgia - we hit Pine Mountain*, lovely and scenic Valdosta (read that with a little bit of sarcasm - just the teeniest bit) and the truly lovely and scenic Savannah (no sarcasm there...).

All stops were thoroughly enjoyed - although the homecoming was made somewhat rough by the COLD!
Yikes, people, what happened??

Anyhow - today was meant to be a day of shepherding Schecky back to school, then spending a pleasant morning downloading all the vacation pictures and going through them. Also answering emails, reading blogs, etc.

Note the ominous use of the word "was".

That was the plan.

Until the projectile vomiting started early this morning.

Poor Schecky is a sick lil pup - so there will be no return to school today. The new and revised game plan calls for Sprite, Pedialyte, and snuggling when called for.
(And lots and lots and lots of hand-washing for me - I love the boy, but I can already tell that I do not want what he's got!)

So the pictures, etc. will have to wait until another day.

In the meantime - let me leave you with this little random nibbly bit to mull over:

According to Google, I am the #12 search result for Kingsport Dominatrix.

Woo Hoo - how proud does this make me? I mean, that puts me just a few slots below Bettie Page**, who first appears in the #3 position.

I've just got to wonder, though... exactly who is searching for this? Sometimes you've just got to cock your head to the side and go "hmmmm".

*Ironically, perhaps the only place in the whole state that has even more pollen than the Atlanta area!

**She may, or may not, be from Kingsport. Accounts vary wildly...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Easter Cupcake, originally uploaded by lla.